Tuesday, August 29, 2006

cuius est solem eius usque ad coelum et ad inferos

"Whoever owns the soil owns also to the sky and to the depths."


I woke up this morning at 5:30 with two earplugs in my mouth. Apparently I fell asleep with them in my hand and then had a dream that I was holding two delicious hard candies that had to be eaten.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

fields medal

As always, Amy O. has put me back in my place. At a $4 per head dinner yesterday, she gave me the verbal equivalent of an exasperated slap to the back of the head by telling me that the only reason my blog is so self-loathing is so I can justify doing the things I feel so bad about doing. Why don't I just stop doing them? she said.

Touché! My mea culpa, my dear, and oh how me culpa. I am honestly conflicted about working for a firm but more or less committed to doing it for a couple of years after graduation. The reasons for this are many, but most of them start with the letter $. It's not that I want five houses on the islands; I just want my parents to retire.

Anyway, excessive explaining, as AO noticed, is tiresome. Besides, my week of 27 identical interviews is over, and now my mind is working on higher ground, or something. All I am doing, after a long day of mostly dull but nicely populated journal training, is reading about the Poincaré conjecture and eating roasted cashews. I bingoed last night in a Scrabble game - sPROUTs for 84 - but was beaten nonetheless, fair and square, by Raj's 90-something point bingo, *TARPULIN. I'm going to walk my dog later, when the rain is coming down, and then maybe work up some vague interest in the first couple pages of my property textbook. I'm saving for another blogpost, or perhaps the privacy of my real journal, the story about giving a stool sample this afternoon. I'm pretty sure whatever it is that is making my abdomen feel stomped on is an ulcer. Oh, boo.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I didn't write yesterday because I was too busy doing laundry at west Bushwick's favorite laundromat/post office/internet stand/Cristina studio to get any "face time" with my computer. ("Face time" is a new phrase I learned from this week. Usage is: "Aw, man, my firm sucks! They want me to put in all this face time at the office, I haven't gotten home before 1 a.m. since 1999!") The most interesting thing about my Thursday was the following exchange:

Irritating (and apparently irritable) disembodied voice: [squealing of tires, teapots at boil, dolphin songs, and other generic whines] Oh my Friday's gonna suck! I have interviews until 3:30!

Irritating (and apparently irritable) dyspeptic dog: [gnashing of teeth, souring of stomach] [sarcastically] Oh, you poor thing. I feel so bad for you. Poor, poor baby. [puts collegial hand on a plasma patch passing for a shoulder joint]

IDV: [coldly] Why are you being sarcastic?

IDD: Because I feel absolutely no sympathy for you. You could have cancelled your interviews. I don't feel bad for you at all.

IDV: [frosty as the lofty air] Oh...kayyy....

IDD: [grumbling, looks back down to folio, wanting to stab needles in everyone's eyes]

I thought about this exchange a lot as I killed time between the 11:20 and the 1:40 running loops on the rooftop of Coles Athletic Facility. The predominant thought was "I'm going to bite down on your eyeballs like they're peeled grapes" (this is the third time in two entries I have envisioned a font of aqueous humor blossoming forth from adversarial eyes), but then I also wondered whether IDV's pissiness 1) came in response to my totally out-of-place uncollegial sarcasm or 2) was a sign that she wasn't actually buying into the whole collegiality schtick and was being a real person by responding in kind to my bad humor. I think it's the former, only because I don't want to give her an inch of credit. This is the way I would narrate what happened: IDV was getting used to congeniality, which survives only as long as everyone is blandly nice to one another. Once congeniality is challenged with, say, sarcasm, then congeniality has no choice but to reveal itself for what it is: hatred in a lamb suit, patrician affect among the upper classes.

Anyway, as I write this I get angrier and angrier and want to retreat into a New England winter, snowbound and lonesome. Because highlights from yesterday also included an interviewer giggling about transpeople and other "weird topics," and a woman with the world's fattest diamond on her left hand speaking haughtily about how she didn't want to raise spoiled children like people in a certain Manhattan neighborhood did; and today, catching the last phrases of a monologue, "...and he was telling me he has five houses on the Islands and a place in Manhattan, and he gets them renovated whenever he feels like it...and I was like, 'That sounds pretty fun!'" I don't know what the Islands are. I don't know why it's fun to renovate your mansions whenever you feel like it...is it more fun than bocce, or a rollercoaster? So many interviewers have pointed out my all non-profit resume and told me, with sympathy, that they understood what I was thinking because they all had to put food on the table too. And then I wonder what kind of food $150,000 can afford that $35,000 can't...

The verdict, after a week, is uncertain. I'm conflicted, obviously. I could say it's all part of a journey toward losing my mind/religion that started when I pitched a friend's painting into a Harlem dumpster at the beginning of February, but who knows if that's fair to say, since I've been wringing my hands about breadwinning for years. Well, anyway, it's the weekend, so I'm sipping from a tiny bottle of mezcal and waiting for respite to find me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

the holder of this ticket assumes all risk, danger, and injury

Just as a week ago, a Mexico City metro map with an "Usted estes aqui" arrow spun me into an existential tailspin, the fine print on the flip side of my Mets vs. Cardinals ticket has me feeling pretty grim about the future of my profession and my future role in creating nonsensical phrases that will be printed in 6-point sans serif fonts on the backsides of everything that Americans find pleasure in doing. Kenji wants to know about the relationship between law and utopia? The answer is: antithesis.

I'm not just being grim because I had eight interviews today, and all of them were, one after the other, reasons to fork up $2 at a slapping booth for a swift blow across the cheekbones -- anything to wake up, bring color to the cheeks. We go through these idiotic rituals, which both sides freely admit are meaningless, and feign interest in each other's answers, when all we are doing is judging the amount of mileage, measured in prestige, that a student's As and Order of the Coifs will bring the firm, or the amount of lucre, measured annually in hundreds of thousands, that those hard-fought As and Orders of the Coifs will reap in reward. Why bother with telling me in great detail about your work, or the firm's culture -- and do you want to know about my summer? Or my "interesting" resume? Or my NAMBLA membership? -- when neither of us gives a damn?

I realized as I was walking down West 3rd this mid-morning -- which is something I try to avoid doing since even the slightest activity provokes a sweat deluge -- and sweat was pooling at my wrists where my black wool coat was draped and revealing Rorschachs on my shirt, that there is no dignity in this. Early Interview Week is watching contessas rummaging at a buffet, beads of lamb fat squeezing out from underneath their fingernails. The longer I spend listening to people talk about firms, the longer I think I'll stay...oh, eight years to partner...why not? Why not indeed, when everyone is so fucking collegial? People seem so thrilled to report that they have not been screamed at like a master screams at a slave, or that when strangers pass them in the office they smile and nod hello. And compared to the megafirms, these niceties matter! Of course! But is collegiality all I can ask for from my life? For the rest of my youth?

Collegiality seemed like a palatable but none too delicious fritter, but it was revealed for a potato in comparison with the vitality of my night's activities. There was a long trip on the 7 to Shea to witness the Mets slaughter (at least through the 7th inning) the Cardinals, then shabu shabu at Minni's in Flushing with Stephanie and Toby (the brilliant placisicist painter) and David (the hilarious archivist), and a long cab ride home with an all-Korean conversation in the front about Saigu (the L.A. riots) and Korean evangelism, and ghost stories and kvetching about Staten Island in the back. This wasn't the stale air of collegiality; it was the breath of life. There's more that I want than just what is barely tolerable, starting with good conversation, interesting people who are committed to the things they are doing, weirdos, pinkos, stories about moon observation, unflinching debates about lowering the age of consent.

Oh, but I complain. And I will work for a firm, providing they don't read blogs. I will have to continue to entertain myself for the next X number of years by imagining the suits in front of me are morphing in paranormal ways, like today, when I imagined one particularly blinky interviewer's wide eyes turning into white balloons and exploding in gore all over my new suit. The inappropriate jokes will have to continue -- today I told an acquaintance who asked me if her collar was in proper place that everything looked fine, except she might want to try to get the bloodstains out (shock, horror, nervious giggle) -- as tomorrow I think I'll tell the next person who asks how an interview went that it went great, I got a callback, twenty minutes is exactly the amount of time one needs to give a decent handjob. Listen for the sucking sound, gentle readers, that's the soul of me at the beginning of a long descent.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

law ferment

Day two of 25 year-olds dressed like maitre'd's milling about a lobby rehearsing conversations with their clones. Firms are giving me desires I didn't even know I had. I didn't realize there was a schwag-shaped hole in me until I found schwag with which to fill it, and now my cup runneth over with mini-flashlights on mini-carabiners (the most irrelevant item), mints (which could thinly veil a semester's worth of coffee or copraphagic breath), gift certificates to nearby coffee houses, oversized plastic slinkys (the least useful), USB drives (the most useful), etc. If the origin of suffering is desire, baby, I'm sufferin' something bad. Because though I know that I do not need another fistful of mints, or another one of those endearing little boxes they come in, my fingers are swift and I pocket everything in sight. A tan Allen Overy baseball cap with a velcro closure? Cha-ching! There's a pyramid of booty in the middle of my bed, which I have not slept in for two nights, and when I come home in the afternoons I handle each item to make sure it's still there.

I think I am mostly kidding. But there sure is a lot of furtive taking on my behalf here. Most nourishing were the two halves of eggplant sandwiches I nabbed and ate with bad posture while misanthropically ticking away at a computer terminal while my cohort compared notes about interviewers behind me. The appropriate gesture for their activity can be performed as follows: bunch together your finger tips, then move your thumb toward and away from them a couple of times. I took my lunch break to avoid the instructive session on callbacks, which probably would have been a good idea since now I have a couple callbacks but no one to answer the question, "Would it be impolite to take a shit in the office bathroom, if I needed to go?", and ran for three miserly miles on the Coles treadmill before expiring of heat exhaustion. It was a poor decision on my part because though I allotted myself 20 minutes to get back for the interview I forgot to allot any time for my face to de-rouge and de-sweat. So at my next interviewer I started things off by saying, "Sorry I'm sweating like a peasant!" The interviewer kindly offered to turn on the AC, which I refused, then offered again five minutes later, which I refused, then finally turned around halfway through the interview and turned it on unprompted. My nose sweat made a spot on my shirt...but I got a callback, so I guess things went just fine.

The best part of my day, though, was pushing the Soba Sensation Sauce out of the way with my chopsticks to get at the hot hijiki on my appetizer plate at Angelica's Kitchen, where I took dear sweet demanding (happy now?) Stephanie for her 2700th birthday - she had the Reuben sandwich, which smelled just like an August asscrack. We, or really just I, came up with a new system of pronouns to signify the insignificance of gender that is at the extreme end of continuing efforts to disrupt the gender binary: every time a gendered word needs to be used, substitute a nonsensical word. E.g., "She combs her hair" becomes "Chandelier combs corkboard hair." This is not to say that "she" = "chandelier" - it shouldn't be consistent. "She" can be chandelier, gently, bog, Memorial Church, a fine gust of windy warm, etc. Stephanie distanced herself from this idea and claimed, implicitly, that I was transphobic, or disrespectful, or maybe just backward, but I didn't take offense, since there was only one subject position at the table occupied by a queer (I mean LGBTSTGNC) feminist academic who secretly makes fun of the pinched pitch of Caeden's singing voice, among other racist, transphobic, xenophobic, anti-Seventh Day Adventist, counterrevolutionary targets for her/hir/hairy derision. Baby, you're the bestest. Happy birthday!

Monday, August 21, 2006

feeling not so (law) firm

Day one of the penguin extravaganza, 400 25 year-olds wearing well-tempered black suits with stiff shoulders, each one with some leathery folder and a tin of complimentary Schulte Roth LLP mints in hand. I would trade it all for one 425 year-old wearing a leathery tin of penguin mints. I've only done three interviews and I've exhausted my capacity for entertaining myself by horrifying my classmates with inappropriate jokes about the banality of our evil; the one about cyanide pills in the tin of mints got a startled polite chuckle from a new, similarly-dressed acquaintance whose name is either Annie, Katie, Sarah, Jessica, Prathak, Jamie, or Funes the Memorious - it's hard to keep track of them all when you go into a room to have the same conversation a couple times every day (Q: How do I like law school? A1: Oh, it's really fantastic and intellectually stimulating! A2: I hunger for its touch; when I tup I close my eyes and think of Vanderbilt Hall) only to emerge into the holding pen to delicately nibble at cantaloupe and rehearse the same conversation with one's classmates! Or maybe it's honeydew - I was corrected today by a friend for calling one the other, a great source of continuing shame in my life.

I've been riding elevators up and down D'Agostino Hall. Squeezing into them with 2500 pounds, the maximum allotment, of law student at a time. One guy made the following joke: "Hey, this is like when you get on a subway at the beginning of a long ride, and there's no place to sit down!" It was not an observation, but an attempt at a joke, which qualifies him as the world's most boring person, though perhaps superceded by his female companion, who giggled erratically at a high pitch; perhaps to flirt, but also perhaps because she found him genuinely funny, which is an infinitely more alarming prospect. While these jokes and flirtations were being exchanged, I noted the recently shorn perfect hairline of the 6'4" man with a tight end's built standing with the back of his nice wool suit pressed into my nose, and reminded myself to pray to Jesus to resurrect me like Lazarus following my soon-to-come several-years infirmity. I think my personhood can survive the next three or four years, so long as I continue to imagine that underneath their suits everybody has the texture and appearance of a formless uncooked Italian sausage.

Whew! I think I'm going about this interviewing thing the right way...mincing my words of derision on my very public blog, for example, which is linked to from my very public Friendster profile. I have fifteen more minutes to continue my "firm research," which thus far has consisted of blogging and Gmail chatting friends in Nairobi about renting a house over the winter in western Massachusetts. Just as I think it's idiotic that these poor interviewers should have to feign interest in the procession of preservative-laden cookies who regurgitate OCS lines at perfect pitch, I think it's stupid that I should spend any more time on something that is virtually guaranteed to me, she says, measuring the impressive length of her penis, and that I feel so ambivalently about. Harumph.

a friend

A very special friend, you asshole. Lover is for the salt-and-peppered, partner is a dance companion, girlfriends eat pints of ice cream and gossip about their boyfriends. Friend is just about the sweetest address there is. Azucar for mi chinita. We stay up at night because partition only tears apart the subcontinent. Let's not.

everything in it's right place

The school year started for me today, at midnight, and as if to say, FUCK YOU, CLOWN!, my somatic self immediately superceded the elf that produces rationality through the modulation of dials in my skull and now my body's stuck on school mode. Which is to say, the insomnia returns as soon as school does. Is that a sign of illness? Of food poisoning? Of lupus? Why are there mosquitoes in my room? Why do they bite my face as I lie in bed? Why can I not think of a single answer the potential question, "Tell me about yourself?"

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: The R&D of solar radiation instrumentation have significant calibration requirements. The specialized optical laboratory YES operates to characterize products includes three major facilities for the measurement of spectral, cosine and absolute responses of optical radiation detectors.

Q: What is the greatest obstacle you have overcome in your life?

A: My knickers don't dance, they're just pull-up pants, so do the Rockaway. Lean back. Lean back. Lean back. Lean back.

Q: Do you think your grades adequately reflect your magnificent, many-faceted intelligence?

A: Two former New York City police detectives, who retired in the early 1990s and moved to Las Vegas, made their first court appearance Thursday after federal authorities accused them of helping the Mafia commit eight murders.

I'm so ready for my interviews! "Tell me about yourself" FUCK YOU! You're not the boss of me! Why don't YOU tell me about YOURself?!

My pants extend 4-5" past my ankles. I've been told that my shoes are "laughable." I bought a $10 folio at Staples, so that I can impress my interviewers with neatly printed resumes sandwiched between pleathered boards. I'm gonna wake up early and polish my teeth with buffing mittens so that my winning smile will cast a piercing gleam across the tri-state area. Today I did lat pull-downs at the gym so I can fan out my Bruce Lee backside; not in preparation for any career moves, but just because I can.

I write all this because a clown is secretly crying underneath his make up. But this is no secret, because when you cry with make up on, your make up streaks like a salt plain and you look like your face has been run over by radio-controlled toy cars. What you then have is a law student in clown's make up crying and ruining the make up. This is such a SHITTY METAPHOR. What I am crying about tonight is the geneaology of morality. It is like trying to find the geneaology of a unicorn. You might find a particular unicorn's father or mother, or even grandparents, but what good does that do when they don't actually exist? Morality, like a yeti, is elusive. The question is: is maturation 1) coffin nails on a once-pretty past; 2) a lowering of expectations, a narrowing of possibility, an acclimatization to varying degrees of less-than-happiness; 3) a defeat; 4) irreversible; 5) opportunity; 6) backpacks on cold fall mornings?

All of these things, and one fucking mosquito that has made my face into hot cross buns, keep me awake. Friends, mediocre acquaintances, and people who read this blog just because it's better than filling out shipping orders, repondez s'il vous plait.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

un dolor de cabeza

Hello from the tourist hovel of Hostel Amigo, the latest less-than-stellar addition to the Mexico City "party" hostel circuit, where I spent three days last week but thankfully am only in today to steal free Internet access...hello! I'm blogging only because I can't do anything else. Yesterday night, I ate at a horrid little "vegetariano" restaurant in Oaxaca -- fellow travelers, avoid Flor de Loto at all costs, despite what your Lonely Planet, which approaches Biblical proportions as you plot your travels with your index finger holding the appropriate place in your Baedecker, tells you to do! I had enfrijoladas con quesillo and could feel the wrinkles of my stomach contracting in protest even as I shoveled the vile soupy mess into my mouth, but did not stop eating in time to avoid throwing up seven times whilst traveling by 7 hour overnight bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City, into first my plastic toilet paper bag and then into the deluxe bus toilet and having diarrhea that looked exactly like what oatmeal would look like if one melted an entire 16 oz. Hershey bar into it into that selfsame toilet. (Does using the word "selfsame" imply that I am a toilet? How does one use that word?) In a moment of foresight before boarding the bus, I bitchily finagled a plastic bag from the snack kiosk clerk in the bus station with the following conversation:

Me, green at the gills, swaying, speaking crappy piecemeal Spanish: ¿Tiene una maleta...plástico?
Clerk, lazily popping gum: No.
Me: Pero, ¿que es este? [points at plastic bags behind the counter]
Clerk: No, es solamente por customers or something else I couldn't translate
Me: Mi amiga (pointing at friend standing nearby with recently purchased bottle of water)...la botella de agua...comprar...
Clerk: No, ¿quien?
Me: ¡Ella! La botella...el botela...aqua enbotellada!
Clerk, dawdling, popping gum, generally dragging heels: ...
Me: ¡Por vomitar!
Clerk: [slowly and reluctantly handing over a red and orange striped bag]
Me: ¡Gracias, perro!

Yes, probably not a wise or polite or respectful idea to call store clerks perros because I cannot be understood, but that's not even the most belligerent I got on this trip. Two days ago my aforementioned friend was cornered outside a Oaxacan market by three incredibly short men who tried to pick her pocket. It all happened too fast for me to stop it, but she got them away with a loud "Hey!" Not knowing what had happened, I assumed she was being molested so shoved the offending shortie in the back as he passed by. Sad to say, my sympathetic nervous system, for the second time this trip, has shown itself to be useless. (The first time was during a bus near-accident.) I wasn't even able to see, let alone stop, this shortie from pushing me back and slamming me against a wall. Whoops! We glared at each other and then backed off. Maybe he didn't know I was a mujer? I'm fairly confident that I could take on a single 5'1" man but probably wouldn't've fared too well against three of them.

Anyway, the point being, I'm incredibly sick today. Sipping at a Gatorade bottle and pushing buttons on a computer as annoyed looking German boys wait to check their calientemail accounts. This trip has been rejuvenating and illuminating, if not entirely enjoyable. I've seen some pretty nifty things, which I will not recall one by one here, but I think I've decided after two weeks of impossibly early mornings and sleeping in bus stations that I'd like to get up earlier and also spend less time on buses and never look like I've been beached in a place like Puerto Escondido for too long, because damn beach style is GROSS. (Imagine the looks of stunned horror on those in the waiting room at the Pinotepa Nacional bus station, as a six-foot Scandanavian croquete waltzed by wearing nothing buy daisy dukes and a bikini whose tiny black triangles barely covered the rotisserie-tan skin around her nipples!) The streets of Zacatecas and Guanajuato were tranquillo, Mexico City was filled with very interesting pro-AMLO (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the losing presidential candidate in Mexico's version of the U.S.'s 2000 electoral fraud), Aculpulco was gecko infested and almost whitey-free, Puerto Escondido was like all of Santa Cruz condensed onto five blocks, and Oaxaca didn't have the "Taos-like energy" that a fellow tourist claimed it had but it certainly had food poisonous quesillo and pickpockets...but I must say that the best thing I've seen so far has been the man I saw walking down Calle de Murguía in Oaxaca last night. He was obviously deranged. He wore only a red t-shirt, and no pants, and as I walked by him he squatted on the ground and proceeded to take a shit right on the sidewalk! As cars zoomed by! As people dashed across the seat in horror! I was terrified but managed to sneak a glimpse behind me and I saw the silhouette of an urgent turd being extruded from him. Later I walked by and saw his product, very unimpressive. But still, ¡que interesante!

Okay, the Germans are really getting pushy. No more updates until I get back to New York, tomorrow. New York, sweet New York! How I've missed you! Your wayward son is returning! And me too!

Friday, August 04, 2006

where i'm at

This is something I just wrote in an email to an incoming 1L, my OUTLaw mentee. It's where I'm at, at the end of a too long and too short recuperative summer. I think I've turned into even more of a dullard in my middle age than I had anticipated I would:

And legal studies and practices...yeah, I think everyone goes into law school expecting to specialize in something, but 1) you don't really have to specialize in anything and 2) many public-interesty people change their minds and go the corporate route. Before I came to law school, I was working with LGBT activists and I was all ready to join the movement as a lawyer, but even my friends who were doing LGBT legal stuff were very grim about my chances of escaping law school with my ideals and my decision to work in public interest intact. The reason for this is that law school is, like the army, an institution set up to break down individual difference and to encourage conformity (through hazing rituals like a crazy 1L year, 24-7 contact with your classmates, esp in the dorms, all the same classes, lockers like in high school etc.), and in this case you are expected to cleave to the school's general interest in seeing its students make as much money as possible and donate as much in alumni support as possible. This is true of colleges as well, but law school is much more successful in making you do things you're not sure you want to do. Like when there is a frenzy to sign up for a particular event, like mandatory Early Interview Week preparation meetings, you might find yourself signing up without any real desire to or understanding of why you're doing it. Or at least I find this true of myself, because suddenly it seems like my grim soothsayers were right and I'm gonna do corporate for a couple of years despite my self-professed radicalism and non-corporate interests. Because I have to admit that it's much more attractive to make $150,000 a year than $40,000 a year. The disparity between a corporate and public interest salary is obscene, and even though I disdained what I perceived to be naked greed before I started law school, I find myself a month before the start of my second year ready to wear naked greed like an old, comfortable coat.

And now I'm going to Mexico for two weeks. Mexico City then Zacatecas then San Luis Potosi then Oaxaca then San Cristobal de las Casas then Palenque then Puerto Escondido or something like that. Lots of overnight buses in the jungle. Hope I don't fall over a cliff and die, but if I do, I love you all, except for the ones who done did me wrong.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Unbearably Cute Thing Dad Has Said #54,233:

"You know what I would do I won the lottery tomorrow? I would buy a $5 bottle of plum wine and drink it while watching Titanic with your mother. I love that movie."

[I'm back in Palo Alto for five days before a two-week trip to Mexico! Thank the Virgin of Guadalupe I'm not in New York for the heat wave. It was 50-something degrees on the water at AT&T Park in San Francisco tonight, where I watched the Giants take their ninth drubbing in a row.]